Racial Justice and the City SOCIO5090

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

"The right to the city" is an expression coined by philosopher Henri Lefebvre in 1968; it denotes a particular claim to social and political belonging and participation, in view of collectively constructing a more just society. "The city", in that expression, is broadly intended as the public domain of social life, an open space of encounters and discussions with porous boundaries, for everyone who intend to inhabit or simply use it; hence, claiming the right to such a domain means to fight for the making of a more equally accessible, plural, open, convivial, and ultimately more just society. One of the organizing principles of inequalities and oppression is race. Historically rooted in the prelude and genesis of the various European colonial projects, race operates along with class and gender, typically by obfuscating the very conditions of inequality and oppression that it seeks to establish and maintain.

In asking questions about how race, justice and cities intersect, this course is organized in two parts. First, an overview and discussion of Lefebvre's concept will be related to more recent empirical sociological works that explore current contentious dynamics and struggle for social justice. In the second part, a more specific focus will be devoted to how race contributes to structuring cities globally in both their social/cultural and built environments and how, in turn, the concept of "the right to the city" has been applied to situations of racial injustice and racist exclusions.



Requirements of Entry



This is one optional course, no co-requisites.


This course will be assessed solely via a 4,000 word essay

Course Aims

The general aim of the course is to critically examine the relations between social justice, race and the urban from a global perspective. More specifically, the course aims at both structuring thinking and knowledge, as well as questioning mainstream assumptions and lay theories concerning the relations between race, justice and cities. Further aims include:

■ Investigate the concept of racial justice and how it relates to "the right to the city".

■ Explore both race from an urban lens, and cities from a race-conscious perspective, and assess the view resulting from combining them.

■ Develop critical awareness of the ways in which race operates as a principle of social organization of urban life.

■ Deepen your knowledge of the ways in which cities and race have been at the core of sociology since the late 19th century.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Demonstrate a critical awareness of the concept of the right to the city, its origins and more recent elaborations.

■ Evaluate different claims about identity and class-based politics in the city.

■ Develop an ability to assess the ways in which social justice and race are related.

■ Assess different positions and approaches to racial justice, both in theory and about specific urban contexts.

■ Develop a critical stance on the incorporation and exclusion of specific sociologists from urban sociological literature on racism and racial justice.

■ Critically evaluate rationales and claims of various anti-racist social movements which mobilize primarily through demonstrations in urban settings.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.